City stalls on probe into secular education at Hasidic schools
City officials are dragging their heels on a politically-sensitive probe of whether Hasidic schools provide their students with a secular education, advocates charge.
The Department of Education launched a probe more than 18 months ago after advocates submitted a list of dozens of Orthodox Jewish schools that provide little or no English, math, social studies or science — most notably for boys in yeshivas.
But advocates say the probe is moving at a snail’s pace because Mayor de Blasio fears riling the powerful Hasidic community.
“There’s really no explanation to why the mayor would turn a blind eye other than the fear of upsetting this powerful bloc vote led by these powerful [Jewish] lobbyist groups,” Naftuli Moster, founder of the group Yaffed, told The Post.
“For the lack of a more PC term, it’s really BS what the city is saying. There’s no sign of an investigation,” he added. “They could do it easily, but they’re not really interested in investigating.”
City Council Education Committee chair Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), a former public school teacher, said he’s planning to question Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina about the probe at a hearing Tuesday.
State regulations require that all non-public schools in New York — which receive tens of millions of dollars annually in taxpayer funds — provide a secular education that’s “substantially equivalent” to what’s taught in public schools.
“It is important that those kids get an adequate education,” Dromm told The Post. “I want to ask why they have not come through with the results of that investigation.”
Last year, Schools chancellor Carmen Farina testified at a Council hearing that the DOE had visited “several” yeshivas and that the probe, launched in August 2015, was “moving faster.”
“We now have a committee that is working exclusively on this, so I expect like within a month or so I can give you a written report,” she said at the May 2016 hearing.
Naftuli said the DOE finally got around to interviewing more than a dozen former yeshiva students and their parents in July 2016, but that the agency has gone silent since.
DOE spokeswoman Toya Holness said the results of the probe, which is being led by the chancellor’s office, will be shared with the State Education Department once it’s done.
“We take this matter seriously and are actively investigating this issue — as we do with all complaints about both district and private schools — and remain dedicated to this process,” she said.
Mendel Vogel, a 22-year-old graduate of the Oholei Torah school in Crown Heights, said the DOE already knows which schools aren’t providing secular studies because the institutions don’t make an effort to hide it.
When he was interviewed by the DOE last summer, he told them his school hadn’t taught him any subjects other than Jewish religion.
“They’re literally turning a blind eye to thousands of kids not getting an education,” he said. “We did not read or write in English. No math classes, no science classes,” he added. “None of the secular studies at all.”
The school did not respond to multiple requests for comment.